So, you’re looking to save on a TV package. Whether you’re sick of juggling multiple streaming services or overpaying for cable TV, there’s incentive to buying on a budget. We’re going to show you the cheapest TV plans available by provider and describe what you’ll get for each plan. Are they worth it? That’ll be up to you to decide. DIRECTV DIRECTV recently hiked their package pricing. The cheapest plan, the SELECT package, was formerly $39.99. But for a 24-month agreement, the first 12 months of its plan are now $49.99. SELECT $49.99 per month for the first twelve months Notice how I say it’s for the first 12 months, but this is a 2-year agreement. Expect a price hike after the first year — jumping to $115 a month. If you were hoping to drop your contract after a year, not so fast: DIRECTV has a cancellation fee, charging $20 for each month left on your contract. Be sure to read your contract and speak with representatives to review your price changes, fees, and term length. Also keep in mind that this price tag is listed for those who select autopay and paperless billing. If you have other circumstances, you’ll pay more. The SELECT plan includes 155 channels, such as AMC, bravo, CNN, Entertainment, Fox, FX, and HGTV. For the budget plan, it has an impressive lineup. DISH DISH TV’s cheapest plan isn’t a one-to-one comparison to DIRECTV’s because DISH has more channels. America's Top 120 $59.99 per month Though it’s called America’s Top 120, the plan has 190 channels. You can expect many of your family favorites, like Animal Planet, Cartoon Network, CNN, ESPN, and HGTV. We have some good news: America’s Top 120 has a 2-year price guarantee through its contract. You’ll be paying less than you would through DIRECTV for the duration of the contract. DISH still has a cancellation fee: $20 per month for each remaining month of your contract. And the price above is for customers who agree to eAutoPay. There is one other drawback to DISH: its TV and internet bundles aren’t great. DIRECTV is owned by AT&T, and most other TV providers are large telecomms companies offering a range of services. So if you want to save by bundling, DISH might not be the best choice. Comcast Xfinity TV If you want to bundle TV and internet, Xfinity is one of your best options. But for a standalone TV package, here’s the cheapest choice: Extra $49.99 per month However, Xfinity TV may have some promotional deals that are even cheaper; it’ll depend on your zip code. The good news is Comcast Xfinity TV has 1-year contracts or no-term agreements. You’ll pay $70 per month for no-term Extra, but at least the option is there. The Extra package includes over 140 channels, including options like FX, TLC, HGTV, Bravo. Overall, not a bad deal. Xfinity offers flexible month-to-month options and a low price. Cox Cable The price tag on Cox’s cheapest TV plan is looking pretty good: Starter $25 per month This cost won’t include the one-time activation fee and monthly fees like equipment. For this price, you’ll get over 75 channels; this is significantly less than the other plans we’ve touted, but take a look at the channel lineup and see if it makes a difference to you. How can I get the cheapest TV package? You have more leverage than ever in negotiating a cheap package. With streaming TV services sweeping the competition, traditional TV providers are in a position to negotiate for their customers. These rates above may not even be the lowest these providers can go. Here are some tips for finding the lowest price: Check that you’re getting all the discounts that apply: autopay, paperless billing, and leasing or buying only the necessary equipment. If you need an internet or phone plan, go through the same provider and see what sort of bundling deals they have. Bundling with your current provider will likely be cheaper than paying for standalone TV. Check the perks. Some providers add gift cards or premium channels as sign-on bonuses. Compare these plans with your streaming options. Pluto TV is completely free if you have devices that are capable of streaming services, and Sling TV has a basic package of $28 per month. Do you really need traditional TV? Read also: Do You Save by Bundling TV and Internet?
“Would you like to learn more about how you can save when you bundle your services?” You’ve heard this line a million times when you call customer support. But do you actually save money by bundling? We’ve looked at bundles and standalone packages from some of the most popular TV and internet providers; we’ve also asked the experts about the pros and cons of bundling. Here’s what we’ve found. Bundles vs. singles: What's the better deal? Companies wouldn’t convince you to bundle if the price tag weren’t cheaper — that’s obvious. But what about companies’ terms and conditions, promotional rates, and rate hikes after a predetermined period? Let’s see what you’d actually be paying with some of the most popular companies. DIRECTV Acquired by AT&T in 2015, DIRECTV can now bundle with AT&T internet and phone plans to power consumers’ electronics. Some experts have criticized AT&T’s move, calling it shortsightedness at the threshold of a streaming TV revolution. But some plans still have a huge draw, such as the NFL Sunday Ticket plan, which allows viewers to watch out-of-market NFL games. In a quick side-by-side, the internet/TV bundles stack up well against standalone TV: TV TV+Internet SELECT 155+ channels $49.99 per month 155+ channelsInternet plans 768k to 100M$79.98 per month CHOICE 185+ channels $59.99 per month 185+ ChannelsInternet plans 768k to 100M$89.98 per month ULTIMATE 250+ channels $74.99 per month 250+ channelsInternet plans 768k to 100M$99.98 per month The packages include internet plans 768k to 100M — a significant range. 768k is incredibly slow, while 100M is a suitable, baseline speed for most households. Still, some tech enthusiasts want Gigabit internet, 1,000 Mbps, to keep them up to speed. What plan you’ll be offered could depend on where you live; rural areas typically have poorer connections. And high-speed AT&T internet isn’t available nationwide, so you might not have the option to bundle the fastest speeds. The terms and conditions also mention a $10 per month internet equipment fee. And these prices are only locked in for 12 months on a 24-month contract. Here’s what those monthly rates look like for the last 12 months for your plan: TV TV+Internet SELECT $85 per month $124.99 per month CHOICE $115 per month $154.99 per month ULTIMATE $142 per month $181.99 per month DISH TV DISH’s plans are harder to dig up online, as the company doesn’t list them on its website. Many of DISH’s landing pages want you to call in to request rates, but there are a few pages detailing TV options: TV America's Top 120 190 channels$59.99 per month America's Top 120 Plus 190+ channels$74.99 per month America's Top 200 240+ channels$84.99 per month America's Top 250 290+ channels$94.99 per month For a package, the site mentions you can get internet bundled starting at $20 per month. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Starting rates are always for the slowest plans, and they aren’t including device fees like the ones we saw for DIRECTV in these calculations. What perk is that DISH has a two-year price guarantee on most contracts. Comcast Xfinity Comcast has rebranded many of its options under the name Xfinity. Comcast was often ranked one of the most hated American companies in years past, so it was in the company’s best interest to rebrand. Like its competitors, Xfinity TV and internet come bundled, but the company also has standalone internet plans we can compare. Here are some TV, TV+internet, and internet comparisons: TV TV+Internet Internet Extra140+ channels $49.99 per month X1 Saver Pro+ Double Play140+ channels Internet up to 200 mbps$69.99 per month 200 mbps $49.99 per month Preferred+220+ channels $59.99 per month X1 Preferred Pro+ Double Play220+ channels Internet up to 600 mbps$104.99 per month 600 mbps $74.99 per month Keep in mind that Xfinity has a variety of other bundling plans that vary internet download speeds, channel options, and price; these were simply the closest 1:1 comparisons. If you want the cheapest plan, Choice TV Select Double Play, it’ll be $39.99 per month for download speeds up to 100 mbps and 10+ channels for one year. Honestly, many internet providers can’t give you a 100 mbps download speed for that price. But read your terms and conditions: Xfinity mentions equipment and installation fees as well as a potential Broadcast TV Fee (up to $14.95 per month) or Regional Sports Fee (up to $8.75 per month). The good news is Xfinity requires a 1-year contract for its 12-month price lock, shorter than a 24-month contract. So, are you saving money with a bundle? The average 100 mbps internet plan is going to cost you $50 per month. Based on that knowledge, a lot of these bundles are looking pretty good. We’re most concerned about the DIRECTV/AT&T bundles providing the speed a customer really needs for household internet activity in a package plan. For its prices, you should be receiving stellar internet. Bundling pros and cons You can add one big bullet point to the list of bundling pros: You save money. But you’ll also have to pull in more factors. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks from experts. Pros Everything rolled into one bill You don’t have to work separately with a phone, TV, and internet provider. Operations at KWIC Internet Mark Rapley put it this way: “You only ever have one call to make if something isn’t working. You get all your services on one bill for easy record keeping and payments, and you will likely be left alone by your provider’s marketing efforts since you already subscribe to the full range of services.” You might be able to cut a deal With so many streaming services available, TV providers are feeling the heat. But streaming adds up quickly, and depending on what you watch, you might find working with a TV provider to be the better deal. If you go this route, Emily Woolworth, head of partnerships at Electrical.com, has this tip: “Use your negotiation skills. TV and internet providers know that they're facing fierce competition from unbundled offerings, and they are willing to cut deals to keep your business.” Faster internet and more channels go hand in hand If you’re maximizing your options, AT&T Expert Cara Fuller with All Home Connections notes one big perk: “Faster internet packages and TV packages with more channels are often grouped together. If you bundle with AT&T, for example, you also get the added benefit of one year of HBO and three months of premium channels like STARZ and EPIX, plus free installation.” Cons Unnecessary services Do you need a TV plan? What about phone services? You only save on a bundle if you’re buying services you need and will use. Personal finance expert Lisa Bernardi explains the feature creep: “As a rule, bundles are only worth it if you already intended to purchase all the services included before the deal was on the table. Many consumers fall for the same trap: they sign up for a home internet plan for, say, $80 per month, and then see during the checkout process that they could add TV channels for just $20 more per month. Twenty dollars seems like a relatively insignificant amount compared to that original $80, but it's just a trick by the provider to get you to spend another $240 each year for a service you don't really need and might not even use.” Less negotiating leverage You might have hopped on the phone before and discussed your bill with a telecomms rep. If you played your cards right, you may have gotten a rate reduction. But if you’ve already bundled everything into this one provider’s service, you might have less negotiating power. Rapley warned us about this one: “Since you’re already subscribed to all services, your provider may not view you as a good opportunity and therefore may not pay much attention to you if you do need assistance or want to modify your services.” Varying coverage You’re usually locked in a contract when you bundle. And while it’s convenient to have one bill from one provider, that provider might not carry service through to another state. “If you move, be aware that not all internet service providers are available everywhere,” Fuller advises.
Guest Post by Alexandra Arcand Satellite TV is a popular choice for many people. It offers a wide range of channels, cool add ons, bundles, and packages to fit almost any budget. But with the new year here, and with television companies changing constantly, there are always changes coming to cable and satellite bills. So let’s take a look at what to expect when it comes to changes in satellite TV prices in 2020. Overall package price increases Dish is one of the two largest names in satellite TV. The company has already announced prices will be raised in 2020. Dish’s package prices will increase by about $5.00 per month across the board. Welcome Pack — from $29.99 to $34.99 Flex Pack — from $37.99 to $42.99 Smart Pack — from $35.99 to $40.99 Dish America Pack — from $52.99 to $57.99 Dish America Silver Package — from $67.99 to $72.99 America’s Top 120 Package — from $67.99 to $72.99 America’s Top 120 Plus Package — from $72.99 to $77.99 America’s Top 200 Package — from $82.99 to $87.99 America’s Top 250 Package — from $92.99 to $97.99 America’s Everything Package — from $117.99 to $122.99 Note: These package price increases do not include the $12 per month optional fee to add local channels in your package. DirecTV (now owned by AT&T) is the other big name and will also be increasing prices, though its raises are more spread out. Depending on the package you have, you may see your price go up anywhere from $1.00–$8.00 per month. Basic Choice and Basic Packages — $1.00 Preferred Choice Package — $3.00 Select, Select Classic, Select Choice, Entertainment, and Entertainment Classic Packages — $4.00 Choice, Total Choice, Total Choice Limited, and Total Choice Mobile Packages — $5.00 Choice Xtra Classic, Preferred Xtra, Xtra, and Ultimate Packages — $7.00 Premier Package — $8.00 Satellite TV is reportedly being raised due to price increases of programming on the providers’ ends. Add-on package prices may be raised If you are a Dish subscriber or you plan on becoming one, note that some of the company's packages may require an add-on fee for certain channels. Dish is creating a regional sports surcharge, which will be an additional fee to certain regions. No price for this has been disclosed; we only know Dish has announced the surcharge. Much like Dish’s sports package add on, DirecTV will also be increasing its sports package extras pricing. Depending on the package you choose, you may see a price increase anywhere from $1.50–$2.00. Deals could save you from price increases Satellite TV prices aren’t going the other direction. If you are considering satellite TV or other options, some companies will lock in your price for a set amount of time. This can give you the chance to get a lower price than current customers, and the ability to keep that price for the contracted period. Dish is offering huge savings to new customers in the coming year. All of its “America’s Top” packages are cut by at least $15.00 for new customers, and the price is guaranteed for two years. However, the prices do not include taxes, and there is a fee for early termination before the end of the two-year contract. So be sure to do the math. DirecTV was not as forthcoming with its deals for new customers in the coming year, but it is offering the NFL Sunday Ticket for 2020 with the purchase of any of its packages starting with the Choice package. To get this deal, you must sign a 24-month contract, and the offer is only good for 12 months. Discounts may apply If you fall into categories below, there’s a chance you’ll be able to save and get some extra perks. These offers are exclusive to Dish Network. AT&T does not offer deals on satellite TV alone. It only offer discounts when customers purchase a bundle. Military and first responders If you or a family member are one of the brave men and women who currently serve or have served in our military, a firefighter, police officer, or a paramedic, Dish has a discount for you. For active-duty military, veterans, or first responders, Dish gives its “Stars and Stripes” bundle, which includes eight extra channels to your package at no additional cost. This package also includes a free movie rental each month on Dish. You can choose any one of its on-demand movies to rent for free once a month. This offer also includes a two-year price guarantee and a DVR upgrade, allowing you to store and stream shows right on your phone. Seniors For customers 55+, Dish offers a deal with free in-home technician visits, a free movie rental each month from its on-demand movie list, and the option to add the “Stars and Stripes” bundle for only $10 per month. There are a lot of options out there when it comes to watching your favorite movies and shows, but if you are considering satellite TV or are a current customer, these price changes and potential savings are what you should expect in 2020. Alexandra Arcand writes for FreeAdvice.com and is an avid, movie, television, and sports lover.